Craven council leader offers devolution warning

George Osborne.
George Osborne.
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CRAVEN Council leader Richard Foster has warned the district could lose out if it picks the wrong partners to secure a devolution deal from the Government.

Chancellor George Osborne’s promise to hand major powers to areas which agree to have elected mayors has triggered a frenzy of discussions in Yorkshire over how this could work.

Ideas put forward include a single mayor for the whole of Yorkshire or a series of mayors based on areas around cities.

North Yorkshire’s districts could find themselves becoming part of Greater Yorkshire or in a partnership with the East Riding and Hull or combining with West Yorkshire.

Councillor Foster said: “If devolution goes ahead it looks certain that the district will be overseen by an elected mayor – but the question is, where does Craven belong?”

He added: “There are many options available and I fear not all will be good for Craven.

“We will have to consider the options carefully and I will be listening to the opinions of members and the public.”

In his Summer Budget this week, Mr Osborne confirmed he has already begun discussions with the Sheffield City Region group of councils and “Leeds, West Yorkshire and partner authorities”.

The Chancellor has also set the Government’s spending review announcement in the autumn as the deadline for devolution discussions to be completed putting pressure on areas like Craven to decide where their future lies.

The West Yorkshire group has already set out proposals which would include sweeping powers over transport, infrastructure investment and major government programmes.